Wednesday, June 8, 2005
Rashid Khalidi is the 'Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies' at Columbia University. The chair has provoked much controversy, starting with the controversial nature of the academic it is named for and the suspicion that it will serve as a highly political position -- exacerbated by the fact that Columbia at first refused to release the names of the donors behind the chair. Finally, after doing so under great pressure, the controversial nature of some of the donors was revealed -- including one donation from the government of the United Arab Emerates.
Khalidi himself has been no stranger to controversy, having come under criticism for his own views:
"His rhetoric is intemperate and extreme," Mr. Schwartz said. "I think the very idea of an Edward Said chair speaks for itself." ...
He was recently dropped from a plan to have him instruct New York City public school teachers in a class on Middle East issues.
This post presents what may be a new controversy involving Professor Khalidi -- a charge of plagiarism.
I will leave it to the reader to decide how serious this matter is. Upon first examination of the facts, it does seem that the case is one of fairly classic academic plagiarism. On the other hand, the piece in question is not an academic one, but instead is a fairly short piece appearing on a web-site. Should that matter for an academic of Khalidi's stature? You be the judge...
The piece appears on the web site of the American Committee for Jerusalem, now renamed the American Task Force on Palestine. In 2001, the year the item was first posted, Khalidi was President of the ACJ.
Entitled, JERUSALEM, A CONCISE HISTORY, it bore Khalidi's by-line for about four years. It bore his by-line, that is, until -- as I am given to understand -- the point that Khalidi and the ACJ were contacted by a reporter who was researching a story on this issue of potential plagiarism. As you can see, it is now by-lined "Compiled by ACJ from a variety of sources," although it still contains a link to other articles by Khalidi.
Thanks to the Internet Wayback Machine, however, you can still see the original version as it existed from February 27, 2001 to October 23, 2004 -- complete with Khalidi's by-line. The change, with no remark, explanation or trail left of the change, would tend to indicate that there was something there over which Khalidi and/or ACJ were concerned or embarrassed.
Changes of this nature are considered bad form on the internet, but is it anything more than that? Below are the portions of Jerusalem, A Concise History and the source piece, Jerusalem In History, Notes On The Origins Of The City And Its Tradition Of Tolerance by K.J. Asali that are similar, with the appropriate portions underlined and bolded as presented to me. I have snipped out any portions that do not contain the questionable content and noted them as they occur.
Compiled by ACJ from a variety of sources
Different dates have been given for the founding of the city of Jerusalem, in some cases for the most tendentious of political reasons. However, the actual age of Jerusalem, according to the best archaeological evidence, is five thousand years. The Israeli historian Zev Vilnay, in his Encyclopedia for Knowledge of the Land of Israel, and Ephraim and Menachem Tilmay in their book Jerusalem agree that the age of the city is 5,000 years.
The oldest recorded name of the city, "Urusalem" is Amoritic. "Shalem" or "Salem" is the name of a Canaanite-Amorite god; "uru", means "founded by." The names of the two oldest rulers of the city, Saz Anu and Yaqir Ammo, were identified by the American archaeologist W.F. Albright as Amoritic. The Amorites had the same language as the Canaanites and were of the same Semitic stock. Many historians believe that they were an offshoot of the Canaanites, who came originally from the Arabian Peninsula. The Bible concurs that the Amorites are the original people of the land of Canaan.
Thus saith the Lord God unto Jerusalem.
Thy birth and thy origin are of the land
of Canaan; thy father was an Amorite,
and thy mother a Hittite.
In the second millenium BC, Jerusalem was inhabited by the Jebusites, a Canaanite tribe, and the culture of the city was Canaanite. The Jebusites built a fortress, "Zion", in Jerusalem. Zion is a Canaanite word meaning "hill" or "height." Jerusalem was also known as Jebus. Canaanite society flourished for two thousand years, and many aspects of Canaanite culture and religion were later borrowed by the Hebrews.
According to a number of historians and scholars, many of the Arabs of Jerusalem today, indeed the majority of Palestinian Arabs, are descendants of the ancient Jebusites and Canaanites. In 1902, the British anthropologist Sir James Frazer wrote in his book The Golden Bough: "The Arabic-speaking peasants of Palestine are the progeny of the tribes which settled in the country before the Israelite invasion. They are still adhering to the land. They never left it and were never uprooted from it."
In 1927, the historian Delacy O'Leary wrote in Arabia Before Muhammad: "The majority of the present Palestinian peasants are descendants of those who preceded the Israelites." He reiterated this in his Palestine-Muhammadan Holy Land:
The simple fact is that the majority of the Arab people of Palestine are not descendants of those that arrived as part of the wave of Islamic-Arab conquest in the seventh century. The majority of the native Palestinians, both Christian and Muslim Arabs, are of a mixed race whose connection with the land reaches back into very early history. Conquerors and settlers who followed in the wake of military success and political control were only a small minority of the continuing historic population. This population of Palestinians are the historic people of the land.
[snip remainder of the piece]
Here is the source material:
[snip two paragraphs]
It is evident that neither anniversary is historically correct. It seems that both were chosen for touristic or artistic considerations, and that the choice of the second one was politically motivated. It is well-known that the correct age of the city, according to historical accounts, is five thousand years. This estimation is given by the Israeli historian Zev Vilnay, among other sources, in his comprehensive work in Hebrew, The Encyclopedia for the Knowledge of the Land of Israel, in the chapter titled "Jerusalem, the Capital of Israel.''[l] The same age is given by the Israeli historians Ephraim and Menachem Tilmay at the end of their book, Jerusalem. 
[snip two paragraphs]
Indeed, the oldest name of the city "Urusalem" is Amoritic. "Salem" or "Shalem" was the name of a Canaanite-Amorite god, while "uru" simply meant "founded by."  The names of the two oldest rulers of the city, Saz Anu and Yaqir Ammo, were identified by the American archaeologist W. F. Albright as Amoritic. The Amorites, according to the Bible, are the original people of the land of Canaan. They had the same language as the Canaanites and were of the same Semitic stock. Many historians believe that the Amorites are an offshoot of the Canaanites who came originally from the Arabian Peninsula. In this regard it is apt to quote the Bible (Ezekiel:1 6):
Thus say the Lord God to Jerusalem. Your Origin and your birth are of the land of the Canaanites, your father was an Amorite, and your mother a Hittite.
In the second millennium, Jerusalem was inhabited by the Jebusites. In the Bible the Jebusites are considered to be Canaanites. It was the Jebusites who first built the fortress Zion in the town. Zion is a Canaanite word which means "hill" or "height."
The second name of Jerusalem was "Jebus". The culture of Jebus was Canaanite, an ancient society which built many towns with well-built houses, in numerous city-states, in industry and commerce and in an alphabet and religion which flourished for two thousand years and were later borrowed by the primitive Hebrews.
[snip five paragraphs]
As DeLacy O'Leary pointed out in Arabia Before Muhammad "The majority of the present Palestinian peasants are descendants of those who preceeded the Israelites."  In The Golden Bough, the British anthropologist Sir James Frazer (1854-1941) stressed that, "the Arabic-speaking peasants of Palestine are the progeny of the tribes which settled in the country before the Israelite invasion. They are still adhering to the land. They never left it and were never uprooted from it." 
The American scholar Charles Matthews in his "Palestine--Muhammedan Holy Land" expressed the matter clearly:
Because the view is often held and expressed by sincere people that the "Arabs are mere interlopers in Palestine" and ought to give way to the "return" of the rightful and historic "owners" of the land of the Bible, a further word may be said regarding the ethnology of the land. The simple fact is that the majority of the "Arab" people of Palestine are not descendants of those "new arrivals" who intruded with the Islamic-Arab conquest in the seventh century.
The majority of the native Palestinians, both Christian and Moslem Arabs, are of a mixed race whose connection with the land reaches back into very early history. There is a natural tendency for history to be simplified by the concept that all Moslems of the conquered lands came in, and assumed control, from the outside: and it is an understandable fancy for most of the Moslem population to believe that their ancestors were of the conquering race. Of course, considerable numbers of real Arabs from Arabia did settle in the new possessions, and there are in the voluminous general and local histories of history-minded Islamic-peoples' records of such settlements.
But the conquerors and settlers who followed in the wake of military success and political control were only a small minority compared to the masses of the continuing, historic population. The designation "Arab" was gradually accepted by the majority along with the new religion, and the Arabic language was adopted by all. The change in religion was, in most cases, voluntary, for the sake of preferment and advantage, to escape the higher taxes on non-Moslems, and in a natural process of following the predominant environmental influence and practice. The simplicity and the virility of the new faith, in contrast with the often violent theological controversies over complex philosophical-religious doctrines of Christianity, also had their influence.
[snip remainder of piece]
There it is. You be the judge. I am particularly interested in the opinions of members of, or those familiar with, the academic community.
[Material emailed to me was used in the preparation of this post.]
Update: See this post for a link to an article which includes reaction from Khalidi himself.
Update2: More here.
Listed below are links to blogs that reference this entry: Rashid Khalidi...a Case of Plagiarism?.
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